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Helping Your Mom and Your Marriage

We owe our moms a lot. While we are lucky that we get to have them around, we have to find a balance between helping our mom and nurturing our own marriage. Over-committing time in a helping relationship at the expense of your marriage will, in the long run, not benefit you, your mom or your spouse.

First, you will need to help your mom understand just how important it is to you to have a successful and loving relationship with your spouse. Talking openly with your mom about your feelings, time pressures, and the stresses on your marital relationship can begin the process of setting some limits and realistic parameters for the helping relationship with your mom. Agree upon available times, routines and tasks you can do to assist your mom and then stick with the plan. While this is not an easy conversation or process, it is essential that you work through these issues in order to find balance in your life.

Our research over the past 26 years suggests that there are a number of useful tips that you can use to strengthen your marriage while helping your mom. Here are a few simple tips:

1. Talk openly with each other about feelings, emotions, and stresses as they relate to helping your mom. In times of stress, the tendency is to keep everything bottled up inside. However, this approach will not work if you want your marriage to survive and thrive. In successful marriages, couples talk about everything. There are, as we say, no sacred cows in successful marriages!

2. Make a concerted effort to keep the flame of your love affair alive with each other everyday. You need to start carving out time today to go for a long walk, watch a sunset together, write a love note, and snuggle in bed a little longer in the morning. More importantly, take the time to let your spouse know how much you love him or her and appreciate their understanding of your need to help your mom.

3. Enhance your loving relationship by providing each other occasional time for privacy and aloneness. The recognition of the absolute need for privacy and aloneness is critical to successful marriage. Lives are so hectic at work, at home, and when helping your mom, that the time to be alone with your own thoughts is critically important to your ability to engage in meaningful communication with your spouse.

4. Be spontaneous. Having unencumbered time is, perhaps, the greatest gift two people can give each other. Don’t always make plans. Sometimes, just be spontaneous and unencumbered with your time for each other.

5. Remember, “Simple Things Matter.” Our research on successful love and marriage has taught us many things, but first and foremost – no love has blossomed or been sustained without doing the “simple things.” Engage in simple acts of kindness by always treating each other with courtesy, kindness, respect, and lots of hugs!

Truth is, the relationship between husband and wife trumps everything else. Make this relationship work and all challenges can be overcome.

By Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz

Authors of Building a Love that Lasts: The Seven Surprising Secrets of Successful Marriage
Winner of the INDIE Book Awards GOLD Medal for Best Relationship Book
Winner of the 2009 Mom’s Choice Awards GOLD Medal for Most Outstanding Relationships and Marriage Book 2009 Nautilus Book Awards
(Jossey-Bass/Wiley 2010) Available wherever books are sold.

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